Coventry Caribbean food vendor being helped by apprenticeship training scheme - The Coventry Observer

Coventry Caribbean food vendor being helped by apprenticeship training scheme

Coventry Editorial 8th Feb, 2023   0

A CARIBBEAN food vendor in Coventry, which has struggled to retain staff during the recruitment crisis is benefiting from a training scheme to get apprentices into the hospitality industry.

Esmie Stewart, who has operated Esmie’s Kitchen in FarGo Village since 2016, has struggled to keep hold of staff thanks in part to rising prices putting a squeeze on wages.

She is currently running the shop with just one other part-time member of staff, meaning she is only open four days of the week and cannot run her mobile catering van at other venues.

But Esmie is set to be supported by Coventry-based national training provider PET-Xi, which is training new apprentices to get into the hospitality industry as part of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) ‘Path 2 Apprenticeship’ scheme.

PET-Xi will train budding chefs and front-of-house staff in the basics of food hygiene, kitchen safety, and customer services in the classroom, and Esmie will offer the trainees one day a week of work in her store.

Esmie will then finish the training with a guaranteed interview for those who take part and is looking to take on two new apprentices in the kitchen and two at front-of-house.

The support coincides with National Apprenticeship Week, which began on Monday and runs until Sunday.

Esmie said the last few months had been extremely difficult for her business and it was so hard to keep hold of staff, along with the rising costs of energy and food – making it tough to compete with bigger chains.

She said she was really pleased to be working with PET-Xi.

“There’s nothing better than getting hands-on experience in a proper kitchen, so it will be incredibly beneficial for the trainees.”

She added she was hopeful she would be able to keep them on so she could keep the kitchen open for more days in the week and start using the mobile van again.

Leia Welland, PET-Xi’s head of skills, added hospitality had been partucularly affected by the recrutment and cost-of-living crises and there were more than 2,300 vacancies in the West Midlands alone with the average salary being £28,000.

David Gaughan, the WMCA’s head of employer services, said it was vital businesses of all sizes were able to offer apprenticeship opportunities for people to learn a valuable trade and get their first step on the career ladder.

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